The novel, Lucky Boy, by Shanthi Sekaran published in 2017 is our 7th feature in OYFF’s First/Birth Mother Point of View (POV) series. The novel covers many themes relevant to birth/first mothers; including culture, socioeconomic factors, and health care access. It is also set in Northern California.
Synopsis of "Lucky Boy" by Shanthi Sekaran
Set in Berkeley, California, two women from very different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds are faced with pregnancy, childbirth, and the diversity of what family means in the United States.
Kavya is a rebellious Indian daughter who doesn’t quite live up to her parents’ expectations for her. She really wants the experience of having her own child with her husband, Rishi, but finds she is unable to conceive.
Soli is an undocumented Mexican immigrant anxious to start a new life and pursue the American dream. Betrayed by her border-crossing companion, Manuel, she finds herself pregnant and alone. Without any other opportunities on her horizon, Soli lands a job cleaning houses for a rich, white family. Soli struggles to navigate life as the single mother of baby Ignacio in a new country, while infertility begins to push Kavya and Rishi further and further apart. But when unforeseen circumstances occur, Soli finds herself in police custody. Ignacio is taken away from her by social services and placed in foster care.
Kavya and Rishi, who have not been successful with fertility treatments and signed up to become foster parents, are selected to provide a temporary home for the baby. While Soli is moved to a detention center for undocumented immigrants, Kavya and Rishi plot to permanently adopt Ignacio. The heartbreaking journeys of these two women, bound by love of the baby boy, are the center of the novel.
First/Birth Mother’s POV:
I found the book itself to be a bit of a hard read. Not because it wasn’t well written, it is! But because the subject matter hit so close to home. I found myself having to put it down and step away from it at times. Although my own journey navigating the world as a first/birth mother has been so very different than Soli’s journey, I found myself feeling triggered by multiple story lines in this book. The way Soli is marginalized for being an immigrant really resonated with the political climate in America these days. How can one raise a child in a place where they don’t even feel safe themselves? A quote from the author featured on www.kirkusreviews.com sums up my feelings on the issue. “I want people to see that there isn’t actually much of a difference between a documented immigrant and an undocumented immigrant,” she says. “They want the same things for their children, they have the same hopes and fears. It’s a matter of paperwork.”
I also felt very deeply for Soli in the fact that she was potentially losing her son by no choice of her own. I found that both Soli and Kavya were somewhat stereotyped into the roles that society has assigned to first/birth mothers and potential adoptive parents. Soli as the first/birth mother with the tragic, unstable life and Kavya the potential adoptive mother who seems to be selfishly trying to steal the little boy away. These stereotypes really need to be abandoned in our society. Each individual situation is different and must be addressed that way. I would be very interested to find out what type of research the author did for this book and therefore how she formulated her book’s structure. The way that they were both portrayed was very triggering for me. Issues with family, society, government and law enforcement are major storylines in this novel.
Had I not been reading it from the first/birth mother point of view, I think I would have enjoyed it much more. The story was riveting and exciting, while being horrifying and sad all at the same time. I grieved for both mothers at different times in the book. What a very complicated and confusing situation to navigate. Be prepared for a tear-jerker at times!
Adoption Story Depiction: B+ (Somewhat stereotyped)
Potential Triggers: A+ (Many triggers appear from varying directions)
The POV series is a forum for the voices and opinions of birth/first mothers to react to birth mother representation in popular culture. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of OYFF. If you are a birth/first mother interested in having your voice heard as a POV Reviewer, please email Jenny Sindel at firstname.lastname@example.org.